Bethesda United Methodist Church was organized in the year 1876. This small community approximately 15 miles northwest of Weatherford was settled by methodist families who realized the importance of a place to worship. Because there was not even a church or school, these strong, sturdy and interested pioneers soon met to make plans.
It was necessary to raise funds and obtain land for the structure before any buildings could be built. The money was mostly contributed by these families who had chosen to come to this comparatively new land in Texas. The land for the first church was donated by Mr. John M. Coalson, grand-father of the then present church/school superintendent, M.H. Coalson. There are many Coalson’s descendants that still worship in Bethesda UMC today.
It was on September 8, 1876 that the first services were held in the church they named Bethesda. Their inspiration came from the bible verse, John 5:2, which speaks of a healing pool in Jerusalem called Bethesda; Hebrew meaning “house of mercy”. The first building was located about 200 yards southeast of the present church near the cemetery on FM 113 and was also used for the school house.
Uncle Jimmy Jones, one of the better known early day circuit riders (a minister who rode horseback from place to place to preach and perform religious ceremonies) of early Parker County history, was present for the first meeting at Bethesda UMC and services have been continuous since that day in 1876. The church hasn’t been without a minister or failed to hold worship service unless inclement weather prevailed and roads were too bad to travel.
The first minister of the church was Rev. S. D. Aiken, later to become well known and Rev. W. L. Nelmos and S. J. Vaughn followed.
The charter members of the church were Mr. & Mrs. Asa Spruill, Mr. & Mrs. John G. Leach, Mr. & Mrs. Wilson Grable and family, Mrs. Mary Coalson; known as “Aunt Mary”, and Mr. & Mrs. Duffy Green Simmons. Miss Simmons who later became Mrs. W. R. Smith; lived to be 99 years of age and was the last charter member.
In 1889, the previous church was built and stood in use until the rebuilding of the current sanctuary in 2003. It was 116 years old and currently stands in Lone Camp off Hwy 4 between Palo Pinto and Santo as a residence. Soon after the 1889 church was built, Mr. William H. Crosthwaite and Miss Kate Simmons were married making them the first bride and groom to walk down the isle at Bethesda.
One of the great enjoyments and interest in that day was the annual Thanksgiving service held on Thanksgiving Day. A big “dinner on the grounds” followed the service with visitation and singing. Mr. Curran Lemons or “Grandpa Lemons” as he was affectionately called, asked before the turn of the century that this day be kept annually and sincere thanks be given annually for whatever harvest was reaped.
In 1964, an Army barrack was purchased and completely renovated for an educational building. Classrooms, a fellowship hall and kitchen gave much desired results for the growth of the church/school. Due to contributions from long time members of the Crosthwaite family, this new facility was named Crosthwaite Hall and is still in use today.
Prior to the completion of the new sanctuary in March of 2003, a pavilion was built, to accommodate youth and Lord’s Acre activities, approximately in 2001. A building was added at a later date to the west of the pavilion to serve as the current Youth Hall and dedicated in July of 2005. A parsonage was purchased, remodeled and completed in February of 2010 to accommodate the pastor of Bethesda UMC.